The Army of Advent

Having been mired in a lack of enthusiasm for any new painting assignment, I started rifling through the piles of soldiers in storage in the hope that something, somewhere might eventually inspire me to pick up a brush. I eventually pulled out a box of HaT’s Austrian Infantry from the 7 Years War. These are figures intended for the Christmas Corps, which I’m increasingly labelling the Army of Advent.

Followers of this blog may recall a certain Christmas tradition involving the formation of this Christmas-themed imagi-nation army (because nothing says “Christmas” quite like military conflict…). Glibness aside, although hopelessly out of season (August highs of 31°c+ here yesterday), reviewing these figures for the Army of Advent suddenly re-inspired me. I usually paint such figures nearer the time, but it doesn’t really matter so long as they are ready for mantelpiece duty on the 1st day of Advent. So I’m going with these HaT marching figures in an attempt to get my paint juices going again.

This army currently consists of specially painted troops in their bright and colourful uniforms, created for one purely ceremonial purpose – the duty of standing guard on the mantelpiece during the Christmas season.

The newly-raised Mistletoe Guards on their plinth during last Christmas.

Each year, two regiments from the Army of Advent take a ‘tour of duty’, being displayed on a plinth amongst all the mantelpiece decorations. The Army of Advent currently consists of;

General Staff:

Commander-in-Chief Major-General Noel St. Nicholas and his staff.


Infantry Brigade:

Colonel Hoarfrost (Midwinter Fuzileers) commanding, Major Incense (Mistletoe Guards) ADC.

  1. The 1st Noel Regiment of Foot
  2. The Yule Grenadiers
  3. The Midwinter Fuzileers
  4. The Mistletoe Guards
Colonel Hoarfrost and Major Incense ride out on their respective chargers; Blitzen and Panettone.

Cavalry Brigade:

Colonel Mulled-Wyne (Christingle Dragoons) commanding, Captain Wassail (Carolling Hussars) ADC.

A Carolling Hussar.

Artillery:

Captain Fortune-Fisch commanding.


I’ll be sharing news of some progress very shortly on this project. In the meantime, I’m looking to develop a general staff for the festive force. If anyone knows of 20mm / 1.72 scale figures which may be appropriate for 7YW era commanders aside from HaT’s versions, I’d love to hear your ideas.

Seasonal Soldiery on Parade

This year’s Christmas decorations are already up and, therefore, so are my two new Christmassy regiments; The Mistletoe Guards and the Midwinter Fusiliers! Handmade flags (by my daughter) flying, I first assembled them proudly parading on their specially made plaques:

And here they are either side of the mantelpiece where they will stand guard for the duration of the season:

The Mistletoe Guards

Having showcased my Midwinter Fusiliers last week, I’m now in a position to share the other regiment which is also due to take its place as part of this year’s household Christmas decorations. Introducing the newly raised Mistletoe Guards!

The figures are 1.72 scale from Zvezda’s Prussian Grenadiers of Frederick II set. There are only three of these figures in each set but I got lucky in finding a seller on eBay who had clearly bought a number of boxes but had no use for the standing or marching poses. For soldiers intended to simply stand to attention over the fireplace during December, they were perfect.

The Mistletoe Guards’ uniform is closley based on another regiment I’ve long-since admired. The Grand Duchy of Stollen blog has a beautifully painted regiment known as the Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja’s Own) Grenadiers. I’ve long been an admirer of this fabulous and venerable blog and this particular regiment’s brightly coloured uniform always impressed greatly.

So, in humble tribute to that wonderful Stollenian regiment, my festive Mistletoe Guards have been carefully painted to mimic their B Company (with yellow pompoms).

As usual for the Christmas Corps, the Guards are deep in snow (courtesy Woodlands Scenics) and the pennies upon which they are based have bright blue glitter around the edges for added seasonal decoration. I was planning on adding a little mistletoe to their grenadier caps but thought that would only cause untold havoc in the ranks should any ladies visit during the festive period.

As with all the regiments in my Christmas project, my daughter Eleanor has designed a fabulous regimental standard. It features mistletoe on a pale green base, the name of the regiment underneath, and is all edged with light blue and red. The figure of the ensign is from HaT’s Prussian Seven Years War Infantry Command range.

The mounted officer is also from HaT’s Prussian Command set, the Midwinter Fusiliers’ mounted colonel being from their Austrian box. The officer, a gentleman altogether more reliable than the rest of his command, has a sprig of misteltoe in his tricorne hat. Colonel Hoarfrost of the Midwinter Fusiliers was mounted on a horse I named ‘Blitzen’. I think the Mistletoe Guards’ officer (Major Frank Incense), rides a fine, forward-going, dun stallion of Italian pedigree known as “Panettone”…

Finally, there is an NCO of the guard keeping the ranks in order with a large spontoon.

So my newly raised regiments are intensively drilling for their decorative role on the fireplace. As soon as the Christmas decs are up, I’ll post them in situ on their specially made and labelled plinths.

Christmas Decks

My basing arrangements for the two new Christmas infantry regiments progressed well. I ordered online what I thought was two mdf plinths when in fact it was two half-dozen! Never mind, it’s worked out very nicely. The bases were cheap and I intend to customise them over time for each regiment in the Christmas Corps anyway.

A game of Jenga, anyone?

Here’s the two finished bases for this year’s new regiments; The Midwinter Fusiliers and the – as yet unpresented – Mistletoe Guards. I’ve gloss-varnished the top decks with a few coats and painted the surround in black with a just a dash of brightly coloured coloured glitter (blue for the Mistletoe Guards and white for the Midwinter Fuzileers). Engraved plaques indicate the name of the regiment on parade.

But that’s not all. Although, they are not due to take a tour of duty on the mantelpiece this year, I noticed that my artillery, Cracker Battery, where already in a diorama that was too big for any single plinth.

So, I bonded two plinths together to accomodate it.

To help me expand the original snowy scene further and fully fill out the new base, I ordered some more wintry scenery items over the internet. Snow covered fir trees (or perhaps that’s spruce?) have been added to the scene and I’ve drilled some holes into the base before gluing their wire trunks in place.

I’ve also added a weathered, old country fence in the background to which I’ll later add a dusting of my own snow. Yes, I know that would ordinarily cause ammunition supply problems but for Cracker Battery, ammunition is all around them – snow!

Next, I add some white modelling clay to build up around the base…

Once the clay dries, there’s fake snow to add to the base and the fence. The black edges need work and plaque too. I feel it still needs just a little something else in the scene’s composition but I’ll share finished results in due course!